Joe Biden has been accused of trying to annoy the British by making President Macron his first guest on an official state visit to the US during his Presidency. Since taking power in 2021, the Democrat US President has not hidden his disdain for the UK and made threats to the Government in London if it did not accept EU terms on the Northern Ireland protocol.
The US President, who had a frosty relationship with Boris Johnson and has been a critic of Brexit, even struggled to pronounce Rishi Sunak’s name when he became Prime Minister.
Mr Macron is due to be his official guest this week in what is a warming of relations between America and France after a row over Australia ditching its plans for French nuclear submarines in favour of a British/ US agreement.
The two are set to discuss EU relations, trade and Ukraine on Thursday after Macron lands in Washington DC.
There will also be a state banquet where the two will pledge their friendship.
But Patrick Basham, director of the Democracy Institute in Washington DC and a leading pollster, noted that there was another agenda for Biden to make Macron his first guest.
Mr Basham said: “There is no doubt that Biden, an Old School traditional Irish-American Democrat, cannot fully get past the Northern Ireland element of UK domestic policy.
“If the British only elected Tony Blairs and David Camerons, he might feel differently. But the British episodically elect Margaret Thatchers and Boris Johnsons.
“Nationalist British leaders want to dismantle Big Government or leave the EU are anathema to Biden and other tax-and-spend globalist American liberals with a strong Europhile, rather than an Anglophile, bent.
“Biden knows that the UK is America’s strongest, closest ally, but in his heart, he wishes it was not so.”
The US President may have been stung by lampooning of him by Donald Trump for being stuck on a row near the back at the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
And instead of inviting the new King Charles III for a visit, Mr Biden has instead turned to France.
Mr Basham noted: “Ideally, for Biden, America’s number one European ally would be France. Biden views Macron the same way most American liberals (and much of the American media) view the French president: smart, soph isticated, telegenic, youthful, charismatic, pragmatic, and modern, with a superior elite education.”
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Mr Basham pointed to polling by the Democracy Institute for Express.co.uk which puts Mr Macron in second place as preferred foreign leader to be an alternative US President on 15 percent, but well behid Boris Johnson on 22 percent with Mr Sunak on 11 percent.
He said: “As our polling found, Macron is who American liberals and Democrats think a president should be, what he should believe (globalist, pro-EU), how he should talk (minus the foreign accent), and what he should look like. The irony for Biden, of course, is he lacks each one of those non-policy qualities.”
Mr Basham went on: “Biden enthusiastically embraces Macron for three reasons. First, he knows warm ties between Washington and Paris irritate London, which the American president enjoys doing.
“Second, by association Macron fleetingly brushes Biden with the former’s appealing (to America’s centre-left) personal and political qualities.
“Some leaders would fear they pale by comparison when in close physical proximity to Macron, but Biden assumes some of Macron’s appeal rubs off on him.
“And, third, Macron’s profile and his ideological proximity to Biden enable the American president to play the role of a global statesman who has cultivated important supporters on Ukraine and other crucial geopolitical issues, as well as to play an alleged diplomatic mentor to Macron and other young European leaders.”
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Former US President Donald Trump had wanted to strike a UK/US trade deal.
However, the UK has suspended talks with Biden’s White House because of its hostility to Britain and instead made 20 separate deals with US states.
Associated Press (AP) reported that Macron and Biden have a long agenda for their Thursday meeting at the White House, including Iran’s nuclear program, China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific and growing concerns about security and stability in Africa’s Sahel region, according to US and French officials. But front and center during their Oval Office meeting will be Russia’s war in Ukraine, as both Biden and Macron work to maintain economic and military support for Kyiv as it tries to repel Russian forces.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Monday described Macron as the “dynamic leader” of America’s oldest ally while explaining Biden’s decision to honor the French president with the first state visit of his presidency.
The US tradition of honoring foreign heads of state dates back to Ulysses S. Grant, who hosted King David Kalakaua of the Kingdom of Hawaii for a more than 20-course White House dinner, but the tradition has been on hold since 2019 because of COVID-19 concerns.